Economy on life support
Power supply worsens
Unending fuel queues nationwide
I feel your pains – Buhari
Just as President Muhammadu Buhari jetted out to China on another foreign trip weekend, a nationwide survey revealed that majority of Nigerians are going through the most unbearable agonising time in living memory.
According to the survey conducted by the Nigerian Pilot Sunday, the unending scarcity of premium motor spirit, PMS, (petrol), epileptic power supply, scarcity of funds, downturn in economic activities and unpaid salaries have compounded the woes of the citizens.
All over the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, the queues for petrol is getting longer despite assurances from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC that the queues will ease off by this weekend.
The product sells between N180 to N450 in most part of the country, while some Nigerians have chosen to sleep and keep vigil at petrol stations; others wake up as early as 4am to join the queues for petrol.
Apart from the hike in the cost of fuel, some petrol marketers are capitalising on the scarcity to rip off unsuspecting Nigerians by adjusting their pump meters and dispensing less than what is paid for by their customers.
Worst hit by the fuel scarcity are owners of small and medium scale businesses who are unable to continue production, since they rely on petrol to run electricity-generating plants.
Epileptic power supply has also resulted in higher demand for petrol by hapless Nigerians to power their generating sets and any other fuel consuming machines.
The erratic power supply in the country took a new dimension on March 31 when Nigeria’s power generation collapsed completely to zero megawatt and this persisted for about three hours.
As the electricity situation continues to worsen, despite the recent 45 per cent increase in electricity tariffs by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, Nigerians have been left with no other option than to provide alternate source of power for their homes and offices.
The bad situation going worst is hitting hard at workers in several states where the state government has not been able to pay their salaries for several months.
In some states, the state government has slashed the salaries of the workers to between 40 to 60 percent. Even with the slash in salaries, the state governments still owe the workers backlog of outstanding salaries.
As a result of the poor state of the Nigerian mono-economy, the nation’s currency has been hovering between N318 to over N320 to the dollar in the parallel market.
Worried by this development, the organised labour has already alerted the federal government about the looming total collapse of the nation’s economy.
Speaking at the opening of the Central Working Committee meeting of the Nigerian Labour Congress, NLC, in Abuja last Wednesday, the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, lamented that Nigeria and its people were facing serious economic decline, saying that workers were worse hit, as they have once again been sacrificed for the failings of the political elite.
Wabba noted that in spite of the measures by President Buhari to rebuild the economy through renewing and strengthening of relations with nations, signing of bilateral or trilateral agreements, creation of safe haven for investment, fighting corruption, tracking and recovering looted funds and resisting pressures to further devalue the naira. Despite all these efforts not much have been achieved, as the naira has continued to fall against major currencies, while inflation continued to rise, amid mounting commodity prices.
His words, “The productive sector continues to shrink with more loss of jobs. Very few employers are paying salaries as and when due, he said, stressing the need let the people know how serious the situation has become.”
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday got a picture of the agony in the land when he was received in Kano by demonstrators who chanted that they are suffering and going through difficulties.
Osinbajo was in Kano to inspect the Sabon Gari market recently gutted by fire.
“We are suffering, no fuel, no power, no money,” hundreds of Kano residents chanted on Saturday as they welcomed Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on a state visit.
The residents in Sabon Gari town were seen carrying placards with different inscriptions lamenting the current economic situation in one of Nigeria’s largest city.
However, President Buhari is raising the hope of Nigerians that their agony will soon be over as the government is sensitive to their plights.
The President spoke at the Vanguard Personality Award ceremony in Lagos on Friday, President Buhari said through the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, that he was feeling their pains saying that mutterings about the new administration being a scam was not true.
“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, let me use this opportunity to tell our compatriots that this administration is keenly aware of the difficulties they are facing at this time, resulting mostly from the fuel scarcity, poor power supply, inflation etc.
“As a government that was propelled into office by the power of the people, we cannot but feel the pains of our compatriots, and we deeply empathise with them.
“We are working round the clock to ease the pains of Nigerians, and the efforts of the government have started yielding fruits as we seek to make the petroleum products available nationwide, restore gas supply to the power generating firms, revive the economy and put Nigerians back to work.
“We understand that Nigerians have started questioning whether this indeed is the change they voted for, while some have even gone as far as saying that by voting for our party, Nigerians have entered one-chance.
“Well, I can tell Nigerians that our change agenda is real, and that indeed, they will get the change they voted for. Nigerians have not entered one-chance, because the one-chance drivers and their conductors have been driven out of town,” he said.